Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme
The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides a free year of early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age.
In general, children are eligible for the ECCE scheme if they are 3 years of age by either 1st September/1st January/1st April of the year that they will be starting. In other words, if your child turns 3 on 2nd of the September, they will not be eligible to register for their free year until the next entry date which would be 1st January. Each child is entitled to two free years of childcare with the cut-off point being at 5 and a half years of age.
The State pays a capitation fee to participating playschools and daycare services. In return, they provide a pre-school service free of charge to all children within the qualifying age range for a set number of hours over a set period of weeks.
Exemptions from age limit
If your child is over the eligibility age requirement due to special needs they may be able to get an exemption from the upper age limit for the ECCE Scheme. You should write to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs seeking an exemption from the age limit
If your local primary school’s entry age policy requires children to be aged over 5 years and 7 months before starting school, you can also apply to the Department for an exemption from the upper age limit. You should send your application for an exemption as soon as possible